Friday, August 23, 2013

Continuing the Trip - PICTURES TODAY!!

OK, so I figured out the picture thing... I'll be heisting some pics from Hubby's FaceBook page. We're still working on the ones on the camera memory cards, so please bear with me. Click on the pics for larger sizes. 

August 9, 2013 - Lyon, France (via Geneva)

At 3:01 a.m. we saw sunrise at 30,000 feet on the plane. We did take pics and video. It was Hubby's first sunrise over what I initially wrote as "The Pacific." Can you tell that no sleep = no geography??? Obviously, it's his first sunrise over the ATLANTIC Ocean. 

I didn't sleep on the plane; I dozed. I was rather frantic about the Rx mix-up. We got the rental car, a BMW Urban - black, and we named her Mildred. We managed to drive through a number of very long tunnels. Got turned around in Lyon because the side street where our hotel was didn't look like a side street! That's ok. We managed to learn quickly in regard to traffic roundabouts. We're now experts. Our hotel is Hotel de la Cite Concorde Lyon - it's a modern-ish square orange building with plate-glass over the actual structure. So you have the building, and then OVER that, as if to slip-cover it, you have plate glass. Interesting. The plaza contains large statues, and is usually a very busy conference center. Restaurants ring the center, and there's a bus drop-off right behind us. And a gorgeous park, but more on that later. (See, this is why pictures will be forthcoming - we have LOTS of them.)

We took a long walk along the Rhone River and took video and pics. It was about 76* and muggy. Tried to rest up that first night, but we ended up awake in the middle of the night, calling my sister for help with the Rx mess. First called our insurance company, which basically said, "tough bananas." Lovely. The prospect of landing in a French ER with no heart Rx was not making me any more calm... As any of you who know me realize: I was totally stressed what with the death of my youngest brother just days from our departure. I never screw up my medications. Ever. 

Anyway, Sis said she'd go to the house, grab the bottle and FedEx it so that it would meet us during the last 4 days of our trip, when we were back in Geneva. She's one in a million. Whew!

Our hotel room is very compact. The view is of the river, and the window ACTUALLY OPENS! There's a balcony-ish device between the window and that plate-glass shield and you can see where smokers have hung their heads out there to puff away. There are no screens. And of course, an open hotel room window would never fly in the US. Took a shower after the walk along the Rhone, only to find that the shower head was malfunctioning. As in spraying water all over the place. We notified the front desk and we were moved a few rooms over. 

It's daunting to be somewhere where you don't speak the language. No subtitles on the street signs! Luckily, most of the folks here speak British English, so we manage just fine. Again, though: don't go to France in August. They've all left! 

Went down the plaza to Terrazzura Brasserie italienne to eat at (to them) the "ungodly" hour of 5 p.m. The server said she could serve us pizza but "dinner doesn't start till 7 p.m." -- well, I knew that, but remember, we were still on US time. 

We shared a fantastic smoked-salmon pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes. The salmon was lightly smoked and the crust was more Neapolitan - thin and crispy. We spend 2 days here and then move on. I admired Hubby for being adventurous with food; he's not usually that willing to try new things. But he said that this was the place to do it. 

August 10, 2013 - Lyon (Day Two)

As you can see, the time is kind of screwed up. But I'm going by what I wrote in the journal. The call to Sis was probably more correctly TODAY, but we'll go with it. We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel, and noticed it was kind of quiet. A few flies joined us, as the patio doors were open. Lukewarm eggs, cold potatoes. It was an interesting mix of "American" and "Continental." And, by the way, it cost the earth! I felt bad because I'm not a huge breakfast eater. I wanted my yogurt and tea, and that wasn't worth the nearly $25/day the breakfast cost us... 

I thought it was going to be an "easy" day. Catching the bus for the City Centre, viewing 2 cathedrals and a bit of shopping; looking for perhaps some gifts for my mom and sister. And taking pics. We wanted to look in the silk area; I was secretly hoping for a yarn store... 

You can get a bus pass for 1 hour or 2 hours or all-day. You can get on and off the bus as many times as you want for those specific intervals. The bus is fairly packed, including strollers and dogs. Dogs everywhere, nicely behaved and kind of ignoring everyone. Very well organized, though. At the terminal, there were clocks telling you when the bus would arrive and where it was going. Our desk clerk gave us a very easy-to-follow map and circled the things he thought we should visit, based on what we told him we wanted to see. 

Noon: Le Jardin de la Rosaire - on the way to a cathedral up in the air. REALLY up in the air. This is a picture of it, but it doesn't give the full perspective. Hubby points and says to me, "Let's go up there." At least 400 steps. Steps... not a hike, but stairways. And yeah, I do have pictures of that... The cathedral was one of a bunch of "Notre Dame" churches. 

To the uninitiated, there are more than two Notre Dames -- not just the ones you hear about in Paris and Indiana. Every French town we were in seemed to have at least one Notre Dame. This one was at the top of this mountain (actual mountain) overlooking Lyon. Under it was the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Metaphorically, Joseph supporting Mary? Or stressing Mary's importance in the Church over Joseph? There was a life-sized statue of Pope John Paul II in the courtyard of this church. 

Anyway, we took those 400 steps, then a steep-ish path up to this beautiful structure and took a lot of pictures. While in the Jardin, it was more paths in a switch-back fashion, through holly shrubs, lots of rhododendrons and bougainvilla in full bloom. 

I lit a candle for the family in the front of the church. There was a beautiful overlook of Lyon and at noon, church bells went off all over. It was amazing to hear the bells - and I'm sure to a native, you knew which bells belonged to which church.  There was another, smaller church, that our desk guide pointed us to as "the more important one." It was the one which was the original seat of Catholics in France. I have pictures of that one, and I promise at least a few posts that are just pics and captions! The "lesser" church was much less grand than this Notre Dame, but I was captivated by its place in history and the energy you got from just being in there and looking at the pews - more like individual chairs. Imagining the people who had sat in the church for generation upon generation - it gave me a warm feeling that anchored the sense of history which was brimming in its walls. As I lit a candle in there, it was entirely easy to imagine the women who had lit candles for their families for centuries. 

In both churches, the artwork was spectacular. Lots of smaller altars highlighting various saints or benefactors... I'm sure that more than one "saint" was actually a closer portrait of the benefactor who paid for the art! One of the shots I got in one of the churches was a plaque commemorating the marriage (one of them) of Henry VII... I guess it must've been before he dumped the Pope!

On the way down, I'm sweaty and exhausted...and up comes this little old lady - had to be in her 80s' - tripping gaily up the steps on her way to do her afternoon rosary. I just looked at Hubby as if to say, "If you give me crap about the sprightly old gal, I'm tossing you off the ledge!" So this is what it looks like from the top.  It was a gorgeous view. I know that sounds trite, but you could see the curve in the sky as you looked out. We took several panoramic views and just enjoyed the breeze before we started back down. 

On the way to the Jardin, of course, I didn't see a speed bump, and I almost fell flat on my face. Hubby caught me. So my record is two-for-two... fell on the Acropolis in Greece years ago, and almost plastered myself in Lyon. 

There's a bridge you have to cross. In the Chicago papers recently, John Kass was writing about "love locks" and I wish I would have remembered it! Here's the thing: couples in love take a lock, attach it to the bridge, then toss the key into the river. They do this in France, and some folks started to do it in Chicago, and of course in Chicago, it's "littering." Hmpfh.  Anyway, the bridge had the love locks. Here's a shot, even one with a little knitted cozy on it. I would have loved to have put a lock on the bridge for us. 

Hopeless romantic, right? Anyway, it was cute. We took our time coming back, saw tons of public art projects and just enjoyed people-watching. There were the obvious statues to long-dead heroes, and there were splashes of color on the buildings, but there were also some pretty impressive metalwork objects. Like the bouquet below, which was only on temporary display for a while, but had later been re-installed as a permanent display. The statue bordered a fountain, and the kids were running in and out of the water. The "fountain" was more like jets in the plaza. I admit, if I knew I could get my shoes back on, I would have strolled through the water myself! In one of the fountains, I also tossed a few pennies for good luck. You never know. 

 After arriving back at the hotel, we put our feet up and talked about dinner. We thought we were comfortable enough to brave the public transportation and eat at the more "civilized" hour of 7 p.m.-ish... How continental of us!! But before we went, we took a little stroll in the Parc de la Tete d'Or which is what the little park behind our hotel was called. I stuck myself on a bench and Hubby got a picture of me "knitting in Lyon." The Before & After scarf was my travel project and I actually got a lot done on it. We also caught some lovely shots of a couple of bridal couples in the park, particularly one of a newly married couple who'd engaged a boat to row across the lake. The groom was actually trying to row backward... Lots of brides that day. Our total miles walked was 11.7....a lot of walking for me!

Dinner was down in the city at Cafe Francais (there are no dipthongs or markings on the French - Blogger is weird about alternate characters...). I can "guess" in Italian and figure out some French, but we do rely on the folks there to have pity on us pathetic monolingual Americans. Note to self: Learn at least Italian before you go to Europe again!! 

Our poor server that night was a little befuddled, but she managed. My dinner was a 1/2 chicken with morel mushrooms, cauliflower and cubed potatoes. The mushrooms were divine! Hubby had a "classic" burger with "cole slaw" which was really a green salad. He had espresso and I had some tea. Bus ride back was easy. 

We could have spent another day or two here. We wanted to visit the silk area and some other neighborhoods, but because the walk up to the cathedral took so long, we ran out of time. We didn't bring the camera. 

Note to self: When in Europe ALWAYS BRING THE CAMERA. One side street was packed with restaurants - cheek-to-jowl restaurants of various cuisines. It would have been a lovely picture, but alas - it's in my head. Which is where some memories should be kept! 

Tomorrow, more... 

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